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Moving to Utrecht

Netherlands, Utrecht

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What you need to keep in mind when relocating to Utrecht...


Schools:

Elementary school: children between the ages of 4 to 12 attend elementary school.  
High school: at the 8th grade of elementary school the students take a test that determents which course they can follow in the high school. There are 3 different courses:
VMBO: takes you 4 years to get your diploma.
HAVO: takes you 5 years to get your diploma. HAVO degree gives you way in to HBO.
VWO: takes you 6 years to get your diploma. There are 2 types of VWO education:
  • Atheneum
  • Gymnasium
The only difference between the two education ways is that for gymnasium you are obligated to follow the course of Latin and Greek language.

Tertiary education:
 MBO: if you have finished VMBO at the high school you can apply for MBO. The levels of VMBO also matter to MBO, because you will be following courses on the same level as you were following at the VMBO. For example if you have a degree from VMBO level 3, you can only apply for MBO level 3.
HBO: if you have finished HAVO at the high school you can apply for HBO. HBO is a 4 year course.
UNIVERSITY: in Utrecht there are 3 universities.
   

Housing:

 Types of housing:
Detached: are houses who share no walls with other houses. These type of houses is mostly in the South of Netherlands where the population density isn’t that high. Those houses are pretty expensive.
Semi-detached: are houses which do share one inside wall with one other housing.
Terras/town houses: are houses which that 2-3 storeys and usually have a porch and a slightly bigger garden. This type of houses are the most common ones in the Netherlands and are meant for family use.
Apartments: in the Netherlands we have much apartment buildings which are mostly 10 storeys high.  Those apartments are mostly rented and all of the tenants share one front entrance. 
Prices:
Most of the houses in the Netherlands are the town houses and the apartments. The reason is that those houses are affordable by the most people. Apartments are mostly rented by students and expats because this the cheapest type of housing. Detached and semi-detached houses are the expensive ones. 
Utrecht is very attractive to live in because it has a nice city centre but also a real country side part of the town. In the centre of the town there are mostly people living is apartments and townhouses. Utrecht also offers peaceful small villages like Leidsche Rijn, Nieuwegein and Vechtstreek where you will find many semi-detached and quite a few detached houses.
 

Medical Care:

The health care system in the Netherlands are quite effective in comparison with other Western countries but not the most cost effective one. Medical care is very well organized and almost all the doctors speak multiple languages. That makes health care very accessible for the foreigners. Dutch residents are automatically insured by the government for the basic health care with exemption for children under age which are automatically covered by their parents insurance. If you don’t have an insurance you are risking a fine because you are obligated to have one. Utrecht has 2 university hospitals and quite a few government hospitals.

Jobs:

How to find a job?
You will find the best vacancies on the internet via job agencies like:
Most companies in the Netherlands almost always include their vacancies to their websites. When you go to a specific company website you are most likely to find a tab open vacancies.
Growing markets:
  • ICT
  • Constructional business
  • Tabaco industries
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Ship building and repair
Utrecht you will most probably find a job in ICT because many overseas firms are setting their office in Utrecht. ICT is always needed in a firm so that will be the best chance to get a job. Because of the shortage of the houses in Utrecht there are much constructional projects going on. Also a big chance to find a job.
 

Bank Accounts:

It is not necessary to have a Dutch bank account because you shouldn’t have any problems getting money from any overseas account. The money can be obtained by any ATM as long it is a maestro card. The ATM’s in the Netherlands have different language manuals including French, German and English. 
The main Dutch banks are ABN-Amro, ING, Rabobank and SNS bank. The most common one for foreigners in the Netherlands is ABN-Amro because they have a broad information based on English online and specific expat packages.
It doesn’t matter if you are a foreigner and you want to open a bank account. While applying you will only be asked to show some kind of identity proof and also there isn’t something like a certain amount of money which you must have on your account like in Switzerland.
In Utrecht you can also find all of the above mentioned banks, visiting a bank or opening a bank account shouldn’t be a problem. Utrecht has recently build a centre for foreigners where they help with anything you need so if you are having trouble opening a bank account you should visit the centre. The website of that centre is:
 

Visas:

 In the Netherlands you have a few types of visa but it depends on how long are you planning to stay and which country you come from.

Residents of the EU don’t need to have any visa of permits because Netherlands is also part of the EU. If you are a foreigner from out of the EU than you have to apply for a visa. The first you will get is so called ‘Verblijfs vergunning’ for at first 5 years and then for 10 and then you can apply to get Dutch documents.

Like I mentioned above if you are in process to get a visa and you are having some trouble just visit the new expat centre and they will be more than happy to help you.
      

Cost of Living:

This chart shows the expenses of an inhabitant of Utrecht. They spend the most on rent and market and the least money on clothes and sport and leisure. The link to the pie chart you will find in the link below:
 
 

Driving Licence:

 With a foreign driver’s license you are able to drive for 6 months. Then you must apply for the Dutch one. If you are a resident of the EU and you want to get Dutch driver’s license you can just swap it for the Dutch one. If you aren’t a resident of the EU you must do the tests again. You can choose to do theory in English if you don’t speak well enough Dutch. You have also one special situation when you can easily swap your old driver’s license for the Dutch one even if you aren’t from the EU. If you came as a highly skilled professional to the Netherlands you will be able because of your profession and status to swap it very easily without doing any tests.
Also if you are a foreigner and you want a Dutch driving’s license but you are having trouble with getting it you can always go to the expat centre. 
 

Tax:

 Taxes in the Netherlands are pretty high compared with European countries. The tax you pay on clothes, cars and furniture is so called BTW and is 21%, tax on the primary needs is 9% like food. The income tax in the Netherlands depends on how much your salary is. It is a pretty wide range (32% till 52%) but every year you can apply for a restitution of that paid tax. You must do it before 1 April for the last year you have worked. Applying doesn’t mean you will get money, ta office first calculates how much you have earned that year and if you come into consideration to get some money back.

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